Rabeya Sarkar Rima is part of a discussion group of young women talking about issues surrounding growing up in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The group is the brainchild of anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmed, a former university professor.
"We discuss many things: work, parents, our bodies and yes, sex too. In this country, if sex is discussed at all, it's often in a very middle class patronizing manner. I think this is because people fear the energy of adolescents, says Rahnuma.
Another young woman in the group, Shopna, wishes she’d known more about birth control when she was a teenager. She was 14 when her parents married her to a man 13 years older than herself. 'He was good to me. For the first three months I didn't want to have sex but he didn't force me.'
And when they finally did, Shopna got pregnant straight away. 'I was only 15, I had no idea why I was vomiting. My mother took me to a doctor, who then told us I was already three months on the way. I started crying. I was still in school, I didn't want to give birth!' Shopna now advises all her young friends and relatives to use birth control.
Rabeya got married a few months ago. ‘I don’t want to have children, so I’ve told my husband to take precautions. It’s only a little trouble for him, and a lot of work for me. I don’t want to use any birth control pills or IUD. It could be painful or bad for my health. I don’t want that.’ She doesn’t believe she would have dared to be so outspoken if it weren’t for the fact she’d already discussed the matter openly with other women.
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Photo: Rabeya and Shopna in Dhaka http://www.rnw.nl.